This study investigated conceptual representations changes in bilinguals. Participants were Indonesian–English bilinguals (dominant in Indonesian, with different levels of English proficiency) and a control group composed of English-dominant bilinguals. All completed a gender decision task, in which participants decided whether English words referred to a male or female person or animal. In order to explore conceptual representations, we divided the words into gender-specific and gender-ambiguous words. Gender-specific words were words in which conceptual representations contained gender as a defining feature, in both English and Indonesian (e.g., uncle). In contrast, gender-ambiguous words were words in which gender was a defining feature in English but not a necessary feature in Indonesian (e.g., nephew and niece are both subsumed under the same word, keponakan, in Indonesian). The experiment was conducted exclusively in English. Indonesian–English bilinguals responded faster to gender-specific words than gender-ambiguous words, but the difference was smaller for the most proficient bilinguals. As expected, English-dominant speakers’ response latencies were similar across these two types of words. The results suggest that English concepts are dynamic and that proficiency leads to native-like conceptual representations.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access
This study was supported by Research Grant JCUS007/2014/LAS awarded to the second author by James Cook University, Singapore. We are grateful to Dr. George Jacobs and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript, and to Yvonne Yen for her assistance with data collection and coding
Bowers, J. M., & Kennison, S. M. (2011). The role of age of acquisition in bilingual word translation: Evidence from Spanish-English bilinguals. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 40, 275–289. doi:10.1007/s10936-011-9169-z.
De Groot, A. M. B., Borgwaldt, S., Bos, M., & Van den Eijnden, E. (2002). Lexical decision and word naming in bilinguals: Language effects and task effects. Journal of Memory and Language, 47, 91–124. doi:10.1006/jmla.2001.2840.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Groot, A., & Poot, R. (1997). Word translation at three levels of proficiency in a second language: The ubiquitous involvement of conceptual memory. Language Learning, 215–264. doi:10.1111/0023-8333.71997007.
DeKeyser, R. (2007). Skill acquisition theory. In B. Van Patten & J. Williams (Eds.), Theories in second language acquisition: An introduction (pp. 97–114). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
Ellis, N. C. (2007). The associative-cognitive CREED. In B. Van Patten & J. Williams (Eds.), Theories in second language acquisition: An introduction (pp. 77–95). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
Gollan, T. H., Forster, K. I., & Frost, R. (1997). Translation priming with different scripts: Masked priming with cognates and noncognates in Hebrew-English bilinguals. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 23, 1122–1139. doi:10.1037/0278-7318.104.22.1682.PubMedGoogle Scholar
Kroll, J. F., & Stewart, E. (1994). Category interference in translation and picture naming: Evidence for asymmetric connections between bilingual memory representations. Journal of Memory and Language, 33, 149–174. doi:10.1006/jmla.1994.1008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kroll, J. F., & Sunderman, G. (2003). Cognitive processes in second language learners and bilinguals: The development of lexical and conceptual representations. In C. Doughty & M. Long (Eds.), Handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 104–129). Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. doi:10.1002/9780470756492.ch5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kroll, J. F., Van Hell, J. G., Tokowicz, N., & Green, D. W. (2010). The Revised Hierarchical Model: A critical review and assessment. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 13, 373–381. doi:10.1017/s136672891000009x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Locker, L., Hoffman, L., & Bovaird, J. A. (2007). On the use of multilevel modeling as an alternative to items analysis in psycholinguistic research. Behavior Research Methods, 39, 723–730. doi:10.3758/bf03192962.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Marian, V., Blumenfeld, H. K., & Kaushanskaya, M. (2007). The language experience and proficiency questionnaire (LEAP-Q): Assessing language profiles in bilinguals and multilinguals. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 50, 940–967. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/067).CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Murphy, G. L. (2004). The big book of concept. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Okasha, S. (2012). Conceptual transfer in the bilingual mental lexicon. Bloomington, IN: Trafford Publishing.Google Scholar
Pavlenko, A. (2009). Conceptual representation in the bilingual lexicon and second language vocabulary learning. In A. Pavlenko (Ed.), The bilingual mental lexicon: Interdisciplinary approaches (pp. 125–160). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Potter, M. C., So, K. F., Von Eckardt, B., & Feldman, L. B. (1984). Lexical and conceptual representation in beginning and proficient bilinguals. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 23, 23–38. doi:10.1016/s0022-5371(84)90489-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Quinn, G. (2001). The learner’s dictionary of today’s Indonesian. Sydney, Australia: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
Schneider, W., Eschman, A., & Zuccolotto, A. (2002). E-Prime user’s guide. Pittsburg, CA: Psychology Software Tools.Google Scholar
Van Hell, J. G., & De Groot, A. (1998). Conceptual representation in bilingual memory: Effects of concreteness and cognate status in word association. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 1, 193–211. doi:10.1017/s1366728998000352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Van Patten, B., & Williams, J. (2014). Theories in second language acquisition: An introduction (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
Yap, M. J., Rickard Liow, S. J., Jalil, S. B., & Faizal, S. S. B. (2010). The Malay lexicon project: A database of lexical statistics for 9,592 words. Behavior Research Methods, 42, 992–1003. doi:10.3758/brm.42.4.992.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar